Volume 96, Issue 95
Friday, March 28, 2003

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War in Iraq rages: casualties mounting

(CP) – American-led forces bombed Iraqi targets and battled Iraqi troops the length and breadth of Iraq yesterday and British forces claimed the destruction of 14 tanks in their biggest battle since the Second World War.

United States officials reported 25 marines wounded or missing after a friendly fire incident around Nasiriyah and Iraq breathed defiance.

''The enemy must come inside Baghdad and that will be its grave,'' said Iraqi Defence Minister Sultan Mashem Ahmed.

Eight days after the launching of Operation Iraqi Freedom, President George W. Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and declined to set a timetable for the war. It will last "however long it takes" to win, Bush said, thumping the lectern for emphasis.

Both men said the United Nations could help rebuild post-war Iraq, but sidestepped tricky questions concerning who would create and run a new government once Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is toppled.

Anti-war protests flared anew. In New York City, hundreds of demonstrators lined three blocks of Fifth Avenue and dozens more lay down in the street in a '"die-in." At the United Nations, the U.S. ambassador walked out of a debate on the war after Iraq's ambassador accused the United States of trying to exterminate the Iraqi people.

In Ottawa, Canadian officials confirmed that a small number of Canadian troops are on the ground with U.S.-led forces in Iraq, even though the federal government isn't formally backing the coalition.

Meanwhile, Iraqis accused U.S. and British forces of targeting civilians. They, in turn, were accused of seizing Iraqi children to force their fathers into battle.

"They are targeting the human beings in Iraq to decrease their morale," Iraqi Health Minister Omeed Medhat Mubarak told reporters. Officials said about 350 civilians had been killed in the operation, and more than 3,500 others injured.

One day after Iraq claimed more than a dozen civilians were injured in a missile strike in Baghdad, U.S. Brig.-Gen. Vincent Brooks said it was possible that an Iraqi missile was responsible. "It may have been a deliberate attack inside of town," he added.

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